06/07/2012

Blakewatch Week 27: Aftermath

Season Three Episode 1- Aftermath
(1980) Writer: Terry Nation / Director: Vere Lorrimer
The Federation has won the war against the aliens but at the cost of half its forces and  Star One. The Liberator crew have been forced to abandon ship and when Avon ends up on the primitive planet of Saren, he encounters more than he expected. And some shouty tribes he probably did expect.

Blake’s 7 without Blake is a curious notion at first and initial attempts to paper over the fact that Gareth Thomas is absent only draw attention to it . However after the establishing scenes even Vila and Cally vanish leaving Paul Darrow to take centre stage which he does with aplomb. His hitherto infrequent heroics become more defined in an episode that places him as the undoubted hero. Whether refusing to allow the killing of an unconscious guard or rejecting Servalan’s attempts to persuade him to join her power play there is no doubt that Avon has been repositioned as the lead. Luckily Darrow retains enough edginess to not allow this to soften Avon too much.



Much of the action takes place on the planet Saren which in the limited palette of planetary options available to the series opts for the beach. Terry Nation manages to contrive a way for both Avon and Servalan to crash here in her case unmarked even down to her silver shoes. Jacqueline Pearce is in her element with every nuance of Servalan’s words serving her own cause. The scene where she tries to recruit Avon is especially fun. The two flirt with and tease each other throughout, their minds on higher things. 

Predictably the horse riding Saren natives sport Viking helmets and believe in primitive forebodings but unlike the Goths of two episodes ago they at least seem properly dangerous. They say they will kill people and they do, in one case quite shockingly. Alan Lake is their leader so there is shouting but at least he’s outdoors and lower on the Blessed/ Purchase scale of yelling aliens. Mind you, it would be funny to see the Sarens’ dialogue as they try and break in to the underground hiding place; I wonder if all the roaring was spelt out phonetically in the script!


"This mobile phone will never work"
We are introduced to Dayna Mellanby, the replacement for Jenna. In 1980 casting a non white actress in a lead role was still unusual not to say bold but it may be that Josette Simon would rather forget her debut major tv part. These days a well respected classical actress, she is only as good as the material here which isn’t bad for a writer better at ideas than people. There’s a potentially interesting conflict between Dayna’s father creating super weapons and her preference for bow and arrow. However this gets lost once Servalan has been at work and kills Mellanby senior in a manner that underscores how ruthless she can be. One suspects the bow and arrow along with many of Dayna’s independent attributes will be left on the planet.

What you can’t fault is the way the series has been moved on. With the Federation narrowly winning the war against the aliens yet at the cost of half its forces the potential for a more chaotic Universe with more varied adventures is raised. The episode may be called `Aftermath` but it looks promisingly like New Beginnings.

 

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